While not usually as critical a problem as housetraining, grooming is quite frequently another area that is sorely neglected or improperly handled. A young animal should be groomed thoroughly on a regular basis. Thorough grooming includes brushing and combing out all mats and tangles, inspecting for external parasites, cleaning ears, and clipping the puppy’s nails.
Expect The First Few Months To Get Messy
Nobody expects an infant puppy to stand perfectly still while all this is going on. In fact, it will take months before all of these ministrations can be accomplished at one grooming session. Start slowly, making the puppy stand for a few moments while you gently brush and comb him.
Teach him to lie quietly while you inspect his ears, check out his paws, and look over the anal area. Talk to him constantly, reassuring him that you know you’re doing and it’s all for his own good. He may not understand what you are saying, but just the soothing sounds of your voice as you speak will do wonders for comforting his nervousness and help keep the dog as still as possible.
Ask your veterinarian to show you how to clip his nails, clean his ears and, if he is a long-haired dog, how to clip the hair away from under his tail to prevent fecal material from adhering to the area and causing irritation. Matted hair, long nails, and dirty ears are worse than unsightly; they are breeding grounds for disease and parasites which can cause great discomfort and lead to physical harm to your little puppy.
Although both long-haired and smooth-coated dogs require regular care, the truly difficult dogs (such as Poodles, Afghans, Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, etc) generally require daily grooming to keep them looking and feeling their best.
He May Be Small Now, But Early Grooming Is Best When Practiced Young
Don’t think that the puppy who will not tolerate being brushed at eight weeks will outgrow it. This is rarely the case. More likely, he will grow into the type of dog that requires sedation in order to be professionally de-matted and/or stripped to the skin. This can easily be avoided by beginning with gentle, short grooming sessions when your dog is very young.
In the long run, you will find that a few minutes daily spent caring for your dog will result in long-term savings from expensive veterinary bills, professional grooming costs, and less aggravation when your dog grows into adulthood.
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